As a Pakistani, living in these times especially, it is difficult to keep yourself aloof from the happenings in the social and political arenas of the country. For a short while, yes, you can pretend as if you don’t care or that it doesn’t really concern you. However, that’s a ruse because sooner or later, you will have to face up to the fact that your environment definitely impacts your life, in one way or another.
With most people I meet on a day-to-day basis or those forming my social circle, the political scene of the country is nothing short of a “bad headache”. Mentioning the name of a politician, for example, will cause tempers to flare and within moments, all sorts of issues will have been raised, ranging from inflation, electricity load-shedding and corruption to the rising costs of education, insecure water supplies and the deplorable security conditions in the country. Blame is heaped on to the political class, the interlinked feudal system and the military. The discussion soon unravels on a bitter note, hinged on despair, that there is nothing that the ordinary citizen can do to help matters in any way. Either that, or people try to laugh off their frustrations at the politicians by making all sorts of jokes, based on real and fictional stories.
For me, I may laugh at the occasional joke but following up on current affairs or even discussing them is not a pass-time activity or something to just laugh over and set aside. What is the purpose of that? Can we achieve any good from simply churning the pot of despair, once turning the ladle in the clockwise direction and then in the other? It’s pointless because you’ll still have despair at the end of it.
Ignorance may be bliss to some but it’s a shackle to others. When I read up on political activities, I do so to be more aware of what’s going on around me. They might be corrupt to the core, swimming in a pool of scandals and allegations of fraud but I should know who they are, what they are up to and how the decisions they are will affect my life. It is possible that I might find myself in a position where I have the ability to make a change, no matter how big or small, and that awareness of the people around me and “in charge” of me, will help me make the best choice, in the benefit of the common people. Shouldn’t I be prepared well for that?
We’re living in times where, very easily, we interact with people from half-way across the globe online, in so many different ways. Likewise, our understanding of change, change catalysts and issues needs to be top-class if we are to be part of the process ourselves. When I follow up on local and global happenings, whether it is some political unrest in Thailand or the new state taking shape in Rwanda or even the global financial crisis, it is so that, as a Muslim, I remain a part of the mainstream body of educated minds. If I’m out there interacting with people, as a Muslim foremost, then I need to know the issues that shape the face of our local and global lives.
Then, there will always be people who will try to tell you how wrong your views are. I’ve been told by many that all notions of being optimistic and looking to participate in positive change are just pipe-dreams. I’ve been told to wake up to reality and understand that “only Allah can fix our conditions now”. In fact, even my keeping up to date with news stories is considered a waste of time by people who will prefer to stick to the entertainment channels on TV instead. It’s only when I frown and rant in anger and pessimism that this class of naysayers accepts me as taking the right course of action. But what has this class achieved then and how does their indifference to action distinguish them from the very people whom they despise?
After having observed people around me and of course, my own feelings and inclinations, I can say with certainty that my views and not wrong. I want to be aware, alert and continue to hope for a better future. As important it is to pray to Allah(swt) for the betterment of all good people in this world, especially our Muslim Ummah, which has taken to all kinds of evils, it is impossible that we will be pardoned for turning a blind eye with one flimsy excuse, “it is beyond our power to do anything.”
Allah(swt) has given each and every one of us a certain degree of influence on, not just our own selves but also, on others within our circle. One small positive step might not seem much to you but it is an act of good for the community and Allah(Swt) does not overlook the tiniest good deed, when done with the right intention. Besides, you are first and foremost responsible to correct your own self, purify and better your own Nafs which itself is enough to make you want to be positive change-oriented. And after all, it is only when we own our problems, start applying solutions to our own lives first before pointing to others, that the Help of Allah(Swt) (which we are always asking for) will come, as mentioned in an ayah of the Qur’an:
“…Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls)…”
(Qur’an – Surah Ar-Raad, Ayah 11)
And here is the gist of what I just said, perfectly espoused in the comprehensive speech of the Prophet(pbuh):
“If the Hour (Last Day) starts to happen and in the hand of one of you is a palm shoot or seedling; then if he’s able to plant it before the Hour happens, then let him plant it”.
(As-Silsilah as-Saheehah #9)